Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The John Norman Collins Movie - Part Three of Three

In 1976, William Martin, (aka: Martin "Marty" Bacow), billed himself as executive producer for a movie based on the Washtenaw County murders of seven young women in 1967-1969 and their accused killer, John Norman Collins. 

He reported in an Ypsilanti Press article dated October 13th, that he had completed the script seven months before.  The movie was slated to be called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, named after the children's bedtime prayer. "The filming should start sometime after the new year," Martin said.

William Martin, known as Marty, hired a New York film director (who wishes not to be identified) to assemble a film crew and come to Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor to shoot a low budget film. 

This Director of Photography (DP) says he and his crew drove two film trucks to Ann Arbor only to find that "Marty had no script, just a sketchy outline and nothing else. He had no cast, no locations, and he had only partial financing for the project." William Martin was confident that publicity would attract investors and additional funding, the life blood of the movie industry.

Rory Calhoun in "The Texan"
William Martin (executive producer) named local attorney Jay Kaufman to be the producer. It was his job to raise the money. Somehow, Martin was able to land Hollywood actors Rory Calhoun, to play a Michigan Sate Police post commander, and Kathryn Grayson of Hollywood musical fame, to play John
Kathryn Grayson in "Kiss Me Kate"
Norman Collins' aunt, Sandra Leik. These actors were represented by the same booking agent, who it was thought, owed Marty a favor. 
Psychic Peter Hurkos was hired to play himself and Bill Bonds, a local Detroit television newscaster, was also hired to play himself. Other roles would be cast by locals as they went along.

The DP said they shot footage for four or five weeks. On a typical day, there would be no casting and no preset location. "Marty rode around in a Cadillac convertible and literally acquired a cast and locations along the way. We were shooting cinema verite."

"For example, we went to the Michigan State Police headquarters and suddenly real state policemen were playing troopers in the movie, and we were shooting scenes in and around the police post."

Towards the end of the exterior and location shooting, Martin Bacow (aka: William Martin) was being questioned by Federal authorities about the disappearance of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa and where his body might be buried. Because of the controversy, word came down that the studio pulled the plug on the project.

The film crew was left high and dry. This was the weirdest film shoot any of them had ever been on, and they speculated that the film may have been a scheme to raise money and defraud investors.

William Martin produced several low budget movies over his career. One of them, Jacktown, is about a Jackson Prison inmate who tries to go straight in Royal Oak, Michigan. A short viewing of this film will convince anyone that William Martin (Martin Bacow) was no filmmaker.

When I wrote and contacted Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, I was told that they had no knowledge of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. Their archivist checked their records and film vault and found no evidence of any film rushes or publicity stills from the movie. They had no record or association with the film.

Further research on Martin "Marty" Bacow (aka: William Martin), discovered in a book entitled The Last Mogul by Dennis McDougal, revealed "Martin Bacow, a Hollywood jack of all trades, began his career in Southern California in 1948 as a boxing announcer, who then branched out over the next four decades to become an actor, screenwriter, labor negotiator, and a B movie producer."

A close associate of Teamster President Jackie Presser, Bacow was known as the Teamster's man in Hollywood. It was rumored he could start and settle labor disputes in Tinsel Town. 

The DP recollected that during the filming in Ann Arbor that "Marty was always seen in the presence of two Teamster consultants, William 'Candy' Davidson and Marvin 'The Steel Broker' Mulligan, who acted as Martin's private security."

Lost JNC Movie post - part one: 

Lost JNC Movie post - part two: